Flavors of the Southwest—cilantro, lime, chili, and salsa—come together here on corkscrew-shaped macaroni. Chunky salsa works as a great ready-made sauce for pasta.
There are several brands of salsa on the market today. Choose according to your taste (mild, medium, or hot) and pick one of high quality; the finished dish will only be as good as your salsa. A smoked-chile variety would be a delicious possibility to try.
·2 tablespoons cooking oil
·1 pound ground beef
·1 1/2 teaspoons chili powder
·1 1/2 teaspoons salt
·1/4 teaspoon fresh-ground black pepper
·2 cups (one 16-ounce jar) chunky tomato salsa
·3/4 pound cavatappi
·2 teaspoons lime juice or red-wine vinegar
·1/4 cup chopped cilantro or parsley
·6 ounces cheddar cheese, grated (about 1 1/2 cups)
·lime wedges for serving (optional)
How to Make Tex-Mex Cavatappi
- In a large frying pan, heat the oil over moderately high heat. Add the ground beef and cook until browned, about 3 minutes.
- Stir in the chili powder, salt, and pepper. Add the salsa and simmer over low heat to allow the flavors to combine, about 10 minutes.
- In a large pot of boiling, salted water, cook the cavatappi until just done, about 13 minutes.
- Drain the pasta and toss it with the sauce, lime juice, cilantro, and 1 cup of the cheese. Stir until the cheese is melted. Sprinkle with the remaining 1/2 cup cheese and serve with wedges of lime if you like.